Allegory of the Dream of Love -or- Theodicy of Narcissism

The Culture of Narcissism in the Global Village 

The Italian poet Dante Alighieri's dream vision search in "Divine Comedy" for heavenly love and the beatific poetic vision took him first through hell, before arriving at the Biblical stairway to heaven. In contrast Cervantes Spanish knight-errant Don Quixote stayed mainly down to earth in his dramatic fictional walkabout. The English poet and academic C. S. Lewis "The Allegory of Love" traces the poetic development of allegory of love from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Lewis examines many literary and poetic works of writers of different languages such as; 

These French and English allegories make use of dream vision in whole or in part to create their lore. The German philosopher Leibniz introduced the philosophical concept of "theodicy" which was based on an encyclopedic dream vision theatre where possibility and reality meet. (Read interpretation "Sacred Canopy of the Dream") Such a narcissistic theatre had already been proposed by Plato in his "allegory of the cave". Narcissism is the primary source of the philosophical problem of evil

The German dramatist Friedrich Schiller's "Cabals and Love" would find the modern expression of the "cabal" in such popular conspiracy films as "The Da Vinci Code", "Angels and Demons" and "All the President's Men" which features religious and political intrigue. 

Failed narcissistic development from a Freudian perspective is viewed as "developmental arrest". From a Jungian perspective it represents a failed "individuation process". From an Adlerian  perspective it represents failed "social interest". Finally from Jean Piaget's perspective, the child has remained fixated in the "egocentric stage" of cognitive development. From an emotional perspective the common denominators of the four models, are the development of feelings of healthy self-love and empathy.  

Those who remain psychologically fixated in the "egocentric" stage are driven solely by "self interest", this can only breed the dark emotional side of the collective shadow of love expressed in painful feelings of envy, rejection, shame, betrayal, hate, humiliation, disgust, revenge and narcissistic rage.  

Christopher Lasch's identification of the collective psychological pattern known as "The Culture of Narcissism", is not a new archetypal phenomena, instead it is a durable historic and poetic one. The culture of collective narcissism can be viewed by reading the dream interpretations in the first section below. In the second section is devoted to individual narcissistic expressions found in dreams. 

I. Dream Vision and the Psychodynamics of Collective Narcissism 

II. Dream Vision and the Allegory of Narcissism in the Global Village 

Narcissism can range from healthy narcissism to malignant types of narcissism such as found in Erich Fromm's "Anatomy of Destructiveness". Here are some of the IIDR dream interpretations where narcissism plays a crucial role; 

Further Reading: 

  • Otto F. Kernberg, "Aggression in Personality Disorders and Perversions".
  • Robert D. Stolorow, Frank M. Lachmann, "Psychoanalysis of Developmental Arrests"
  • Mario Jaccobi, "Individuation und Narzissmus" (Individuation and Narcissism)


All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.